Every year U.S. News & World Report reviews all the popular diets out there (35 this year) and asks health experts to rank them to come up with the best overall diet. The list of 25 health experts that rank the diets is very impressive. It includes several nationally recognized registered dietitians, physicians, psychologists, university professors and researchers from top institutes.
So, what did the health reviewers find was the best diet? Drum roll please … the Mediterranean diet came out the clear winner! This is the third year in a row it came out on top.
The Mediterranean diet consists of:
- Daily intake of fruits, veggies, whole grains, beans, nuts, legumes, high poly-phenol olive oil, and flavorful herbs and spices (healthy fats).
- Fish and seafood a couple times a week.
- Poultry, eggs, cheese and yogurt in moderation.
- Low amounts of sweets and red meat – save these for special occasions!
- An optional glass of red wine.
What diet does UnityPoint Health – Trinity promote?
This is not surprising. The UnityPoint Health – Trinity Cardiac Rehab program promotes a Mediterranean eating pattern. In our community cooking classes, we have several delicious dishes that come from the Mediterranean part of the world: cauliflower olive salad, pan-seared salmon in lemon and wine, kale walnut pesto, and braised tomatoes and fennel. Our community cooking class participants get to taste and watch cooking demonstrations for over 25 dishes that can easily be combined to follow a Mediterranean eating pattern.
Why has our Cardiac Rehab program found so much success with the Mediterranean eating pattern?
- It’s easy for everyone to follow.
- Offers plenty of delicious dishes to choose from (no feeling deprived here!).
- Doesn’t rely on buying high cost packaged foods.
- Doesn’t eliminate meat entirely, only reduces the frequency of including it in meals.
- Hunger pains stay away with the help of fiber-rich produce along with whole-grain carbs and healthy fats.
Study after study points to this eating pattern boosting overall health. It helps reduce triglycerides and cholesterol and raise good cholesterol (especially when combined with regular activity). It is good for brain health, the autoimmune system and more. For weight loss, first focus on getting healthy by transitioning to this eating pattern and then you will see the weight come off.
How to get started eating Mediterranean-style
If you want to transition to eating more Mediterranean-style dishes, you don’t need to book a ticket to Greece or Spain. Instead, start wherever is easiest for you. You could work in one more serving (a handful) of vegetables a day. If you aren’t eating fish regularly, find a way to bake, grill, poach or pan sear it that you love and have fish once a week. Over time you can find more dishes you love and build to twice a week eating fish. Or you can switch from whole dairy products to non-fat if you are not at your goal weight and low-fat if you are at your goal weight. Another way to ease into a Mediterranean eating pattern is to switch one of your carbohydrates to a whole grain. It might be white rice to brown rice or quinoa, mashed potatoes to whole potatoes, or switch from a cold breakfast cereal in the morning to oatmeal with blueberries. The point is do something but make it easy to do and continue over time.
Have fun while eating Mediterranean-style
If you want to have fun while you are making the switch to a Mediterranean eating pattern, then sign-up for the next Cooking with Heart cooking series. This is an interactive, fun-filled six-part cooking series where you taste over 25 dishes, get the recipes and learn vital skills like knife sharpening, cutting foods evenly, food label reading, storing foods so they keep longer and so much more. Learn more and register by clicking here!
A Mediterranean eating pattern is for many people a way to bring about reversing or putting off chronic disease. It also is a great way to feel better, live better and ramp up your health while still eating foods you love.